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Please have a look on the following example and let me know which choice sounds correct:

— Yet it was still an encouraging victory for Mourinho’s team and a difficult afternoon for Tottenham Hot spur was probably summed up by the moment Dele Alli, the .......... young player, scored three goals hand over first. [Source] (with a slight change.)

a. impudent
b. insolent
c. impertinent

Based on dictionary definitions, they all mean "rude" to me. But perhaps "impudent" (at least) can be used here properly. I doubt the other two can work either.

Dictionary definitions:


Impudent: rude and not showing respect, especially towards someone who is older or in a more important position

Impertinent: rude and not showing respect, especially towards someone older or in a higher position than you.

Insolent: rude and not showing respect.

As you see, the definitions are so close that I have to be able to use them interchangeably.

Note: Please consider that the meaning in my question is something absolutely positive.

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As a native English speaker the word I would be compelled to choose (of the three) is impudent.

This is because, while all do have similar meanings, "impudent" is most commonly associated with adult and child relationships. For example, a teacher might call a pupil "impudent" if the child behaved as if they knew better than their elder.

It seems best to fit your context of a "young" player seemingly knowing more or having ability greater than their experience would suggest. Interestingly, I noticed that while the dictionary definitions are very similar, the synonyms for "impudent" are slightly different and possibly a little softer - words like cheeky and audacious, rather than disrespectful and insubordinate which are listed for the other words.

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    Agree, impudent is the only one that seems to have a (somewhat) positive connotation. The other ones are quite negative. – whiskeychief Jul 15 '19 at 14:54
  • What about "audacious" @Astralbee. I just found out its meaning and I guess it can work too, but I'm not sure if it has that positive meaning in our minds. – A-friend Jul 17 '19 at 8:17

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